Here's a novel concept: an über-modern Scandi hotel whose proprietors are so fixated on reconnecting guests with nature that they lament having to charge a fee. (But, yes, you still have to pay for it.)
Located in a forest outside of Alesund, Norway, the Juvet Landscape Hotel is sited on a gorge of the river Valldøla. ("Juvet" means "gorge" in Norwegian.) Owner Knut Slinning is a local, and his earnest desire to help people experience the natural beauty of his region is admirable: “I would love our guests to have a feeling that this is a fantastic place, that they had been visiting friends and that they had a very, very nice time. And that I am sorry that they had to pay for it.”
Slinning commissioned Oslo architects Jensen & Skodvin to design seven small cabins, each with at least one entire wall made of glass. The results are minimal cubes of wood and concrete whose interiors are dark and truly spare; the structures are designed to focus guests solely on the outdoors while inside. Each cabin's massive glass wall frames a view of the forest and river gorge, unobstructed by so much as a curtain.
One interesting note: The hotel's design was aided in part by a Norwegian public works project investing in rural infrastructure. The project had a rule that developments were barred from copying ancestral Norwegian architecture, with the aim of demonstrating ingenuity in engineering and design as a hallmark of modern Norway.
For booking information, visit Juvet Landscape Hotel.
Above: With the ethic of being a guest in nature, the hotel's cabins are built on stilts; when they've lived their useful lives they can easily be removed.
Above: A porthole window in one of the cabin bathrooms offers its own unique view. The hotel spa sits so close to the gorge that guests are meant to "feel" the spray from the river during treatments.
Above: All view rooms, like the hotel sauna above, are intended to give the impression of being inside a camera.
Above: Occasional walls of bold color break concrete monotony in the spa. There are no curtains in the stark bedrooms and the natural light is bright in summer months. The hotel owners considered adding drapes, but guests urged them not to, saying that waking in the cabins is like waking outdoors.
Above: Bathrooms are among the few rooms with color. The cabins were first planned without bathrooms or showers to emphasize simplicity in nature, but in the end a few modern comforts were added.
Above: Walking into a cabin is meant to be a dramatic experience, as if nature is rushing in through the massive panoramic windows to greet you.
Above: The hotel owners didn't want the architecture to stand in the way of guests' experience of nature; they in fact want guests to realize that life in Norway has been a struggle for survival.
Looking for more inspiration? See 33 images of Minimalist Hotels in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.